A Corny Bean Mash

20120423-203856.jpgSometimes I just don’t want to cook. Except I also don’t want to eat outside, nor do I crave take-out or prepackaged stuff. Yes I’m spoiled, I like homemade food. It’s just unfortunate that it’s my home and the husband, while an amazing cook and spice master extraordinaire, hasn’t really made the kitchen his full-time home. More like a timeshare.

In instances like this, simple mash ups are my best friend. Like tonight: I had a nice fajita style medley of peppers sauteed the night before, along with some other goodies, but I needed something with oomph to knock it out of the park and really fill us up. So you play with what’s on hand: corn and beans. Continue reading

Beet-iful Rice

beets and riceA few nights ago I got the amazingly inspired idea to use this burns-like-sweet-smokin’-sunburn jalapeno plum jam I can’t dream of finishing ever (it’s soooo good!) as part of a chicken marinade. Well, I wanted to use it for shrimp, but I had chicken so I tried it out. Melted the jam, added lemon juice, salt, some more red chili powder, garlic etc. Smelled amazing. Let it sit a few hours. Busted it out. Roasted a few samples in the oven and sautéed a couple as well (no learning without experimentation) and I discovered… It sucked. Completely.

So I tried to salvage this by making an asian-inspired curry blend of peppers and… it became passable. But I have since learned that the jam shall remain on the breads, crackers, and the like. Or possibly used for grilling one day. I don’t quite throw in the towel do I?

Thankfully this post is not about that. It was not a pleasure to make, and thus shall be shoved into the recycling bin of recipes. However, I was already in a less-than-chipper mood that day, because neither my sweet and sugary coconut sugar cookies nor a delightful batch of tomato-soup-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting won in a baking competition at work. Granted, I was unaware that half the points garnered came from DECORATING THE STATION. *Deep Breath* Not going to relive that stupidity, because honestly… no big deal. But your mood transfers into everything else you do, be it motivational speaking, darning a sweater, or cooking a meal.

Tonight I was in a much more inspired mood. Mostly I just wanted to overcome the previous cooking debacle and reign supreme once more… in my head. But we have a whole stash of beets in our fridge currently. Random yes, but the husband made this delicious beyond my wildest imagination sabzi (vegetable dish) of beets and carrots, South Indian style, so now I keep them stocked because he must make that for me at least once a week. And thus, seeing the carrots, thinking about the various ways to make the husband actually eat a variety of vegetables, and wanting to create my own dish, I concocted Beet-iful Rice! Or more plainly, Garlic Rice with Beets, Carrots, and Zucchini. Continue reading

Roasted Pepper Omelet

The days fly by faster, harnessed to the backs of eagles, whipping through time and soaring out of sight between the briefest snap of my fingers. It breaks my heart to see the sun set faster and faster even when the days grow longer and longer. What illogical conundrum is this?? Perhaps that’s just the inevitable fate of working shared by all, especially when you feel the weight of a thousand challenges, goals, and passions swinging expectantly around you.

The point of all this? To wallow in the sadness of not exploring my culinary side due to many lacking ingredients – sometimes time, sometimes energy. I actually have been working on a challenging and sweet LiterEature lesson, but need a generous amount of time to execute it. I can probably deliver on that by next weekend. I also need to start thoughtful preparation for the coming weeks, when my friend and my family will be visiting us in the span of a week. There are looming expectations to feed them all heartily after all, not to mention making sure the basic amenities are in order. A guestroom bed, for example. Might be helpful, no??

So yes, a bit pressed for time, but time’s like this remind us the truth of finding supreme pleasure in the simplest things. And a day is worth nothing without a sumptuous start; thus I’m sharing with you a super friendly nudge to start your mornings off – my Roasted Pepper Omelet. Continue reading

The easiest chicken kabob EVER

Since I have started working, it would behoove me to concoct or search for recipes that are not as labor-inducing. Granted, if I have the inspiration and the inclination I will do whatever I want, though I have relegated myself to the truth that such magnificent enterprises will most likely take a hit and come around on the occasional weekend. But it’s okay. Now G has begun to cook more (he made the most delicious Pepper Chettinad Chicken the other day, and I can only hope he will write about it, because you all deserve to know what he has been up to) and I am learning to share my marked domain with him with more ease.

Because as much as I like to bother him that I do most of the cooking and he should take a bigger part in it, especially for someone who has such a flair for it, the truth is that cooking is not just a means of feeding our grumbly tummies for me. And recent discoveries have revealed that many of the authors I admire to the furthest reaches of my literary toes have also found peace, solace, inspiration, and fluidity of mind through cooking. Should I be worried that quite a few of these women also committed suicide? Well… perhaps I should be glad I’m not a genius published author like Virginia Woolf then.

Anyhoo, the kitchen has been my inner sanctum of control, but opening up more with my husband has blossomed into some really sensational new opportunities. For example, the first sampling of G’s Magical Masala Blends! He personally created his own spice blend, roasting cumin and coriander and some other stuff, in very specific quantities, to create this spice mixture that would knock Muhammad Ali out. It smells like a desert rose saturating the sunset air of a remote oasis. Tantalizing.

So I used it in these super quick kabobs. And we regaled in the glory of the perfect mini patty. Continue reading

Lemony Garlic Chicken Noodles for the Soul

It’s a combination that is hailed and heralded in almost every culture (that I am familiar with at least)—lemon, garlic, pepper.  The Tang, the Flavor, the Bite. Sour, Savory, Spicy.  Triple S.  Ah, good times indeed.

Even far back in those decadent days of cooking all pasta all the time in college, just with varying kinds of chicken (yeah I wasn’t breaking any boundaries back then, let me tell ya), I do recall my friend Tehniat’s fixation with lemon pepper chicken.  I was fairly decent at it back then, and I’ve improved on it now.  Using thinly sliced breast meat is key for these kinds of dishes, where I want to have diced chicken floating in a whirlpool of marinated (wheat!) pasta.  It’s been fun and easy to try different marinade ideas in the morning, and just cook it up rapidly at night.  Gives me a sense of calmness to have figured out dinner plans early in the day, so I can just sit and write and write and write and exercise and clean and write or try to write and read and read and clean some more and read and… yeah those are my days lately.  Writing, or searching for jobs actually.  Can be stressful.  So a simple dish like this will do a lot to help ones brain out. Continue reading

Lemon Garlic Rice with Paneer

I mentioned in the previous post that I partnered my spinach with some zesty rice, and oh-my-dear-goodness-gracious-have-mercy-on-us-all-and-then-some, was it zesty!  This was a bold attempt for me because rice has never been my strong suit, and only recently have I gained enough confidence in its creation to even consider messing around with it, especially without enlisting the guidance of a tried-and-true recipe of some sort.

But that was the point after all, to try something new and just my own, to see how I would fare.  That is how we learn, and trust me I learned a few things here.  First mistake: use basmati, not jasmine rice.  I admit I wasn’t actually paying attention to which canister I pulled out when I prepared my rice, and that made it way too sticky for my liking.  Chalk it up to a learning experience.  And a fun one too, because anytime we can engage our mind in a creative venture, no matter how simple or complex, that’s a winning point for us.

So here lies my first attempt at Lemon Garlic Rice with Paneer.  Haha… what was I thinking?? Continue reading